A Bronx man convicted of strangling a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor to death during a home invasion robbery was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years to life in prison.
Earlier this month, a jury found Aljulah Cutts, 30, guilty of murdering Felix Brinkmann in July 2009 in Brinkmann's Upper East Side apartment. During the attack, Brinkmann's eye socket was fractured and he suffered four broken ribs. He was found dead with a bed sheet tied around his neck and his mouth gagged with underwear, prosecutors said.
Two alleged accomplices to the crime, Cutts' brother, Hasib Cutts, 33, and Angela Murray, 33, will be tried for murder next month. Prosecutors said Brinkmann was bludgeoned and strangled after he refused to disclose the combination to a safe in his apartment.
Felix Brinkmann survived three World War II concentration camps, including Auschwitz, before immigrating to America in 1947, according to a recorded statement by his son, Rick Brinkman, which was played in court before Cutts' sentencing. Brinkmann co-founded the popular Upper East Side disco club Adam’s Apple in 1971, his son said.
“He beat the odds,” Brinkman, who spells his surname differently, said of his father.
In a statement to Judge Juan Merchan, assistant district attorney Shanda Strain called Cutts a "cold-hearted murderer."
"Felix Brinkmann was a kind, compassionate individual,” Strain said. “He was a good person and he was taken -- taken by the defendant."
Cutts maintained he was innocent, and his attorneys said they intend to appeal the conviction.
"I try to stay as clean as I can throughout life," Cutts said. "I know I’m innocent."
Cutts confessed to the crime, but his defense attorneys said the confession was illegally obtained by police and should not have been shown to the jury.
Judge Merchan admonished Cutts from the bench before handing down his sentence.
"It was your plan to force Mr. Brinkmann to open the safe," Merchan said. “But you did not know the strength and resolve of Felix Brinkmann."